|On Monday, June 24th, 2019 at the SL16B celebrations, the first of five Meet the Lindens sessions was held at the SL16B Auditorium. It featured the Lab’s senior Director of Product Operations, Patch Linden.
The following is a summary of the session covering the core topics raised, with audio extracts where relevant.
Note that there are three videos of this event that I’m aware of:
|Table of Contents
- The SL4Live – TV livestream recording.
- An audio only recording via the official Second Life YouTube channel.
- A recording by Pantera Północy.
When reading this summary, please note:
- It is not a full transcript:
- Discussion points have been grouped by topic, and not necessarily in the order raised during the session.
- I have focused on those topics liable to be of the most interest to readers / generated the most informative answers, so this is not a summary of all comments. etc., but of those up to the 51:00 minute mark, after which the session includes more general feedback / comments from the audience. Please refer to the videos for these.
- Topics are give as bullet-point highlights for ease of reference.
- Audio extracts are provided.
- These have been cleaned-up in places to remove repetition or pauses, etc.
- Audio extracts may concatenate comments on specific subjects that may have been made at different points in the discussion, and so do not always match the chronology of the video.
- There are some unavoidable instance of audio break-up (notably from Patch’s microphone).
- Timestamps to the SL4Live – TV video are provided for those who would prefer to listen to Patch’s comments “in the raw”. This video is also embedded at the end of this article.
- Note that the session was interrupted a couple of times by an 18-carat blockhead deciding to shout abuse over the voice channel, and this is reflected in the videos, although I have intentionally not include audio from my own recording where this noise occurs.
Patch started as a Second Life resident, first joining the platform in 2004, and has been a male fashion designer, mentor, and community lead. His efforts with the latter brought him to the attention of the Lab, and in 2007 it was suggested he consider applying to work for the company.
Initially working as a support agent, he spent a brief period as a support liaison before moving to the Concierge team, eventually becoming that team’s manager. He later moved to the role of Operations Support Manager for a year prior to pivoting away from support entirely and joining the Product group, the team responsible for defining the features, etc., found within Second Life.
Here he developed the Land Operations team, which includes the Linden Department of Public Works (LDPW), which is really his most visible role, from a user perspective, in Second Life, as he tends to be very hands-on with the LPDW projects.
As the Senior Director of Product Operations, his role encompasses the LPDW and all of the Lab’s user support organisation – a total of five teams – and also the Sansar support team, which is managed on a daily basis by one of his line managers, Patch having little day-to-day involvement in that side of things.
As a part of his role in managing / overseeing the support teams, in 2018 Patch established a support centre in Atlanta, Georgia, and is currently overseeing an expansion to this centre, which is doubling in size in terms of staff and also about to move to a larger office space as result.
There are a lot of aspects of SL he particularly enjoys, notably the social aspects, interacting with the residents. He’s also attracted to the power SL gives to people across the globe to connect to one another, support one another in multiple ways, to form friendships and relationships, provide broader social interactions (e.g. links to physical world event such as Pride Month), etc.
He regards his biggest challenge as seeing and feeling the pain people so often feel when they feel threatened by the deployment of a new aspect / feature / capability of Second Life. However, he also sees taking the upset and the often negative reactions to such things as learning experience to help inform future projects and work to try to ease the sense of pain / upset as they are announced / deployed.
We like to have ears all over the place. We pay attention to the forums, we pay attention to groups in-world. There’s all sorts of places that we tend to be, and that, I think, gives us a lot of insight. We can’t catch everything, though, so sometimes somebody will come to me and say, ‘Hey! did you know such-and-such a thing was going on?’ And I’m like, ‘No, I had no idea. Tell me about it.’
So as much as I like to say we can try to be everywhere and listen to everything at the same time, there’s a whole lot more of you [residents] out there than there is us, so I try to give everyone as much attention and time as I can to make sure that you know that we hear you.
– Patch Linden on trying to capture user feedback, thought, concerns, etc.
Who or What are the “Moles”?
As surprising as it may seem, lot of SL users are not aware of what or who the Moles are.
- They are generally SL residents who have developing skills in building (originally with prims, now with mesh), texturing and scripting.
- They work on a freelance basis for the Lab under the title Linden Department of Public Works (LPDW), aka “The Moles”.
- Moles support the Lab in a number of ways:
- They build things like the Premium gifts.
- They develop and maintain Mainland infrastructure (roads, railway lines, seaways, Linden-developed buildings, etc), working with the Mainland Land Team.
- They help build out large-scale projects for the Lab such as Nautilus, Bay City, the Horizons residential regions and Bellisseria.
- They lay out infrastructure and facilities for a wide range of events in SL, including those at SL16B, the Lab-run shopping events, the town hall meeting spaces, etc.
- They construct and maintain the physical aspects of the various Lab-provided games (e.g. Horizons, Paleoquest, Linden Realms.
SLB used to be driven by the Lab, but more recently (SL9B through SL14B in particular) have been community-driven, with the Lab staying in the background. LPDW was more involved in SL15B, and SL16B sees the Lab back driving things.
- See this as a means to leverage engagement with users.
- Recognises and appreciates the work done by residents in organising the SLB festivities over the last few years.
- Are again trying to learn from the lesson of those events.
- Believes the LL teams involved have had a lot of fun bringing the regions together and working with residents (e.g. exhibitors and performers).
- Has received positive feedback from people whilst in the SLB regions.
- Again, lessons are being learnt and will be folded back into future large scale events organised and managed by the Lab.
Note the order of these discussion points is not representative of the MTL session with Patch. The subject covered have been re-ordered compared to the video to hopefully provide a more structured presentation of the information given during the session.
Release Cadence: Houseboats and Traditional Houses
- Linden Homes Have been and continue to be extremely popular.
- Starting on Monday, June 24th, the release process for the available themes of houses will be changing:
- It is planned to release one region of homes every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
- This schedule may slip a little as a result of things like holidays, any QA issues that might crop up, etc., but the Lab aim to try to maintain the cadence.
- This is why the current development of homes on Bellisseria has been “in the open” and observable by residents.
- [Note that obtaining the homes will still be the same process – via the Linden Homes registration page.]
- See Special: Patch Linden on the new Linden Homes release process for more.
- Developing regions like this offers some transparency to the process and helps demonstrate that regions in Bellisseria are not (as has been claimed in various places) “cookie cutter” region layouts that are simply replicated across the continent. They are all individually laid out to offer variety in road layout, parks, public spaces, land elevation, coastline, etc.
Camper and Trailers Theme
- SL16B offers a preview of the next major theme – Campers [Caravans] and Trailers.
- Four styles of these new types of home were initially previewed at SL16B prior to Meet the Lindens with Patch.
- In all there are eight styles (4 camper and 4 trailer styles), and the remaining styles were revealed at the SL16B Spellbound preview area during Patch’s MTL session.
- The units are designed to fit both 512 sq m and 1024 sq m parcels, and will initially be issued on 512 sq m lots.
- When ready, these types of home will be initially released as a large deployment to Bellisseria, including new landscaping that encompasses a very large communal social space.
- After the initial deployment (date still TBA), these homes will roll into the new release cadence described above.
- See A Look at the Camper and Trailer Homes with Patch Linden as well.
The Campers and Trailers are going to come in a large release initially. We kind-of feel like rolling out that entire area, because it is a bit of a scenery change, a theme change and stuff like that. Thematically it doesn’t quite line up [with the current home types and styles], but it is designed to all blend together so you’ll transition from one area of the continent to another.
But as we go through that process, you’ll see a who bunch of regions get spun up, for those of you who keep an eye on these things … You’ll probably see the building versions of those regions come soon, and we’ll start building those out and then at some point we’ll have a really large release for those as well; and then those will enter that same process of this more frequent release cadence.
- A large communal events space located on its own island regions.
- Connected to Bellisseria via airstrip, landing pad, moorings and ferryboat.
- Intended to provide a space to a range of community fairs and events (it is not intended to be an amusement park – think of it as Bellisseria’s version of the Bay City Fairgrounds).
- It will be available for bookings for events – details are still TBA, but will likely involve a special group and sign-up process.
- Inaugural events already planned for July 4th and July 6th organised by the Bellisseria community itself.
Bellisseria Commercial Spaces and Railway
So, not only are we going to create these awesome regions with these campers and these trailers and stuff, we will potentially be turning the dials on introducing commercial spaces in Campers and Trailers …. [and] let me just say, ‘choo-choo, chugga-chugga-choo-choo’; and that will continue into the theme after, which will be extreme fitting for that to continue into.
[Will it have something to do with the SLRR?] You’ll have to wait and see. I imagine that if it goes ‘choo-choo’, it’s got to have something to do with the SLRR!
[Will the commercial element come with or after the Camper and Trailer Homes deployment?] it will potentially, maybe along with it.
[Will it give people the opportunity to use their linden Homes commercially?] potentially.
– Patch Linden discussing one aspect of further commercial opportunities
linked to the Campers and Trailer themes, and a hint of a future railway connection for Bellisseria.
Additional Commercial Option
- Also under consideration, and separate to the above, is adding small communal market spaces around Bellisseria.
- These would in some ways reflect the current social spaces found throughout Bellisseria, but offer the potential for commercial activities.
- They will likely be restricted to those selling items directly related to the Linden Homes (e.g. add-ons, etc.).
- Stalls would probably be made available on a rotational basis, rather than being permanently assigned to a specific merchant.
- These would be entirely separate facilities to any Linden Homes, and could potentially be used for hosting art displays (as could the larger event spaces).
General Points on the Linden Homes Parcels
Note: it was during these comment (at the 43:32 mark in the video) that the 18-carat blockhead interrupted. Audio commentary presented here is cut to avoid their noise.
- Giving the homes a smaller footprint than the size of the parcels in which they sit was a deliberate choice, as Patch’s team wanted to see how people would use the spaces provided – such as add their own options: car ports, docks, etc.
- The Lab also wanted to see how merchants and creators might embrace the new homes and their potential.
- Thus, the approach was to try to strike a balance between providing a “ready to live in home” and presenting people with the ability to customise / expand (within the limits of their parcel), and overall the feeling is that this balance has been struck.
- Has also been pleased to see how some people have given over their Linden Homes as public spaces: pubs, etc., for use by the community in Bellisseria.
- Enjoys participating in the community through the social aspects and watching it develop its own quirkiness and identity.
- It is often asked if Bellisseria will ever link up to Blake Sea (via the Mainland coastal waterways). This is on the “we’ll see” list of ideas.
- There are future plans to add to / extend the current two region wide navigable channel linking Bellisseria with Jeugeot to the south with more waterways and further landmasses for linden Homes, etc.
- While most of the in-world development focus has been on Linden Homes and SLB, work is continuing on the new user experience and welcome areas.
- This work continues to include working with the Marketing team to provide campaigns that flow from ads to themed landing pages to themed welcome areas.
- [I’ve covered some of this work in the past in the following articles:
- Further tests have also been going on with mentors located at the Learning Islands to help provide support and guidance for new users.
Second Life Roadmap
- Thinking within Patch’s team can be as forward directed as a decade hence.
- The planning for the New Linden Homes started some 18 months ago, with a view to how the process, the continent, etc., be expanded and managed through 2020 and beyond.